I like to mix it up on this blog because there’s just such a wealth of cool and interesting things out there to explore! My friend and fellow instructor, Kyle Pierson, has been exploring architecture lately with her new project – http://iconicornot.com/
Housing and where we live are probably our strongest statements about who we and our characters are. Today, Kyle shares the story of a woman who set the stage, not only for romantic fairy tales, but also as a pioneer for women’s achievements in the 20th century.
The settings of Romance novels have to be just as seductive as the characters. So I’m taking this opportunity to highlight Julia Morgan, an architect who set the standard for the American faerie-tale castle. It’s a perfect opening to write about the famous designer of the Hearst Castle (aka San Simeon), the Gothic setting for the movie Citizen Kane. (Rosebud!) I bet that fact surprised you.
But this post isn’t about San Simeon, it’s about Morgan’s faerie castle, Wyntoon, the “Cinderella House.” The iconic castle is hidden on the McCloud River in northern California, on the Hearst estate’s 67,000 acres. Tucked into a Ponderosa Pine forest, it is one of three houses designed to replicate a German village.
Inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Morgan’s cottages are the sort that develop a soft layer of moss on the cedar shake roofs, the kind found on a rainforest dwelling. These houses are more suited for the groundskeepers of the Hearst Castle than the landlord. In the 1930s, the town of McCloud’s economy depended on the labor of lumberjacks and lumber mills. In fact, children who lived in the village coveted an invitation to attend the Hearst’s summer party held at the “Cindrella House.”
Morgan enjoyed designing for the working class. When she was a young architect, she welcomed the children of her staff into her studio to watch her work. When she built residences for friends with children, she often included surprises that would delight them, such as hidden closets and stairways.
Her career coincided with the rise of the 1920s Women’s movement. As a result, her commissions included many schools, churches, and YMCAs. Morgan’s versatility and genius was fully recognized in 2014 when she was posthumously awarded architecture’s highest honor, AIA’s Gold Medal. She opened the door for women to bring a feminine point-of-view to a (still) male dominated profession.
Thank you, Kyle, for introducing us to Julia Morgan, designer of San Simeon and faerie-tale castles!